From prepping the American's annual Thanksgiving turkey to the British weekly Sunday roast and the daily roasts in most homes, a roasting rack is an essential kitchen tool. While some people still roast their meat directly on the roaster or their cast iron Dutch oven without using a rack, they miss out on the magical effect the tool has in guaranteeing tastier and evenly cooked dishes.
Roasting racks come in all sizes and shapes. There are the V-shaped ones; others are U-shaped, while some are flat. Dutch oven roasting racks are mainly round or oval, taking the shape of modern Dutch ovens.
Assuming you have invested in these versatile cooking pots, how do you use a Dutch oven roasting rack to bring out the best in your roasts? Besides placing the rack on a Dutch oven when roasting, how else can you use it? Read on to find out how.
A Dutch oven roasting rack is a grill used to elevate food inside a Dutch oven or any other roaster when cooking. Placing food on the rack allows heat to circle it for even Dutch oven coal for even cooking.
Also, elevating the food allows fat to drip to the bottom of the pot (in the case of meats), which prevents the bottom layer from soaking in the fat and becoming greasier than the other parts.
Another plus of using a roasting rack is that keeping the food off the bottom of the pot/pan prevents it from burning and ensures it browns and roasts evenly for a crispy taste. At the same time, you can place other foods, e.g., potatoes, below the rack, allowing them to absorb the fat drippings for a tastier flavor.
Roasting racks can be made from any oven-safe material. Stainless steel and aluminum are the most common though silicone and ceramic are also in use.
Roasting Racks Elevate the Food Within the Oven
If you have a Le Creuset, Staub, Lodge, Cuisinart, or any other brand of Dutch oven, you know you have the perfect pot that fits everywhere - from cooking stews to baking, roasting, storage, and even serving meals. In the same way, its accompanying dutch oven cooking with a roasting rack allows additional flexibility when making meals.
Let's look at some of its uses.
Perhaps, the primary use of a Dutch oven roasting rack is holding roasts inside a Dutch oven or roasting pan, keeping them off the bottom, and allowing heat to circle the meat for even cooking. Using the rack also makes roasting more convenient by eliminating the need for turning the food around during cooking as the heat circulates evenly.
When buying a Dutch oven roasting rack, you need to consider the size of your Dutch oven or roasting pans, whichever you intend to use. It should be able to accommodate the rack and leave at least 2 inches around the pot for better air circulation. Alternatively, if your Dutch oven is too small, you may as well use the rack atop an aluminum foil-covered baking sheet.
Generally, most oven racks are elevated at least 2-3 inches to keep the meat from burning and allow the fat to drain to the bottom.
Place the roasting rack on the Dutch oven/roasting pan/baking dish and set the meat on it. Using a Dutch oven, you can either cover it with its lid or leave it uncovered. For other options, you may also decide to cover with a lid/aluminum foil or leave it uncovered. Finally, place the pot/pan in the preheated oven and cook as usual.
Besides its primary role, a Dutch oven roasting rack is a versatile tool that you can use in other ways around the kitchen, which includes the following.
In the same way you use the Dutch oven roasting rack for roasting, you can use it when baking to achieve better results. Instead of using a standard tray to hold your pastries, you can place them on the roasting rack. Besides preventing burns, the rack provides an even distribution of heat around the food for uniform and quicker cooking.
Don't have a cooling rack for your baked goods? A Dutch oven roasting rack can serve the purpose pretty well. Set it on the countertop and place your cakes, bread, or cookies on it to cool before digging in.
Dutch Oven Racks Can Help When Cooking or Baking
Most people love Dutch ovens because, besides their versatility, they have thick walls and a tight lid that allows food to cook quickly without becoming overly dry. And when it comes to baking and roasting, having an appropriate roasting rack optimizes the pot's usefulness.
With various options of Dutch oven roasting racks available, consider these options for choosing the perfect one.
Size of the Dutch oven - The rack must fit well in the pot allowing enough space around it for air circulation (at least 2 inches).
Size of your roasts - Do you intend to use the rack for a roasted chicken/piece of meat or a large turkey? The rack must be large and sturdy enough to accommodate the roasts without bulging on the sides.
Handles - The rack should have handles to allow you to remove the food from the pot/pan safely once it cooks.
Material - Racks are made from different materials. Some are oven safe, while others might not be safe if subjected to very high temperatures, especially those with non-stick coating. Whether you opt for stainless steel, aluminum, copper, silicon, or ceramic racks, ensure they're labeled oven safe.
Elevation - Another essential feature to consider is the bottom allowance of the rack. It should leave at least 2-3 inches from the bottom to allow air to circulate and the fat drip from the meat.
If your Dutch oven roasting rack does not fit into your Dutch oven or it's too small for the food you're cooking, you can always make do with what you have before you get an appropriate fix. Here are possible alternatives.
Most people often ask whether they can use a cooling rack as a roasting or baking rack. In most cases, you can. But that depends on the material it's made of. Some metallic cooling racks have a non-stick coating that's not safe under extreme temperatures, so it's always good to check whether it's oven safe.
Placing roasts on top of vegetables is an old and popular hack of roasting meat off its juices. While it might not produce similar results to using a roasting rack since there's no adequate air circulation beneath the meat, it ensures the roast dries evenly without absorbing the fat drippings and becoming greasy. Besides, the process allows the vegetables to soak up the flavors, making them tastier.
Using aluminum foil is another handy hack to get your food off the bottom of the Dutch oven or roasting pan. There are several ways you can prep the foil, including crumpling it into small balls or folding it into rolls and placing them in a way that supports the meat and allows the fat to drip through.
If you have cooking spray, you should spray the foil before setting it on the pot/pan to prevent it from sticking.
If you have chopsticks, they can make a good alternative for a rack. To make a good elevation, place a few of them (3 or 4) apart on the pot/pan parallel to each other. Then arrange some more lying across the first set to form mesh-like support.
You may add other layers on top as necessary, ensuring the arrangement is stable enough to hold your roast.
Air fryers are better suited for browning and crisping food than roasting - so they may not be suitable for all cooking purposes. They do however have a crisper tray which allows for even cooking of meat or other food while the air fryer evenly circulates hot air for consistent cooking. While they have limited capacity, food cooked in an air fryer tends to cook more quickly and evenly than food cooked in a conventional oven.
While Roasting Racks Can be Helpful, There Are Certainly Plenty of Alternatives
Here are a few commonly asked questions regarding cooking with a Dutch oven and dutch oven roasting rack.
Using a Dutch oven roasting rack is beneficial in many ways, such as:
Avoid Sticking - It ensures food does not stick to the bottom or burn
Less Greasy - Fat collects to the bottom of the pot/pan, which helps avoid a greasy meal - these pan juices can later be discarded
No Turning Required - It ensures the food cooks without the need to turn it
Heats Evenly - Heat circles the food for even cooking
Gravy Ingredients - It's easier to collect fat drippings for making a delicious gravy
Browning & Crisping - Meats brown and crisp evenly
Besides using a Dutch oven roasting rack on the Dutch oven, you can also use it on a roasting tray, as long as it fits nicely inside. To do so, put the rack on the tray and place the roast on top of the rack. Then, assuming you have preheated the oven, put the tray inside and cook as usual.
Yes. A Dutch oven is a multipurpose cooking pot you can use for roasting. However, it should be large enough to accommodate the roasts and allow the heat to circulate. If you use a non-stick pot, ensure it's oven safe and take note of the maximum recommended temperatures.
While you may use them for roasting, the Dutch oven and roasting pan are pretty distinct.
Purpose - Dutch oven is a versatile cooking ware used for various purposes, including cooking stews over a stovetop, baking, roasting in the oven, serving food, keeping food cool, etc., while a roasting pan is used primarily for roasting and baking food in the oven.
Shape - Dutch ovens mainly come in either round or oval shapes, while roasting pans may be oval or rectangle.
Material - Dutch oven is made from a thick material of cast iron or hard-anodized aluminum, while a roasting pan is somewhat lighter and usually made from cast iron, copper, stainless steel, glassware, aluminum, etc.
It depends on how much food you place beneath it. The meat can still cook evenly if you leave enough space for air to circulate. Besides, the vegetables add flavor to the drippings for a tastier gravy.
Le Creuset Demonstrates The Many Different Uses of a Dutch Oven